Police Quest III: The Kindred (PC) Retro Review
Game Name: Police Quest III: The Kindred
Developer: Sierra On-Line
Publisher: Sierra On-Line
Release Date: October 1991
Platforms: MS-DOS and Amiga
After 9 months, I was able to finally finish this game. It is not that it took long to complete, it is just that I did not have the time to stream it.
I had played about 2 hours of it 9 months ago and I picked it up again in January 2021. I was happy that I did, as I really wanted to see how the Sonny Bonds trilogy would end.
You can see my previous 2 reviews here.
I always loved the first game as it was the first Sierra game that I played. It always gave me those nostalgia feels. The second game although graphically superior, did not feel as good of an experience. They did improve the driving sequences but the story was weaker and the gameplay was pretty much the same. So it suffered from the same pitfalls as the first game. Just that it was highlighted in the second game.
Let us see if the third game in the series continues the downward trend or will the trilogy finish on a high note.
Once again you will be playing the character of Sonny Bonds. However, this will be the last time, in the series. The reason for this is that after Police Quest III, Jim Walls left Sierra Entertainment. This also coincided with Sierra going in another direction for Police Quest: Open Season.
There is no definite timeline for the story but it does take place shortly after the events of Police Quest II. You are happily married with Marie. If you do not know, Marie was a prostitute in the first game. Bonds and her fell in love while working together to arrest the Death Angel.
This time, she is victim of a stabbing at the Lytton Mall. She survives but stays in a coma. Sonny Bonds which is now Sergeant, vows to catch whomever did this to his wife.
The gameplay for this is different from in previous games. The main difference is that you do not have to write text to tell the game what to do. You can point and click where you need to go and click what you want to pick up. That was a huge upgrade. One of the more frustrating things in previous games was trying to find the exact words to continue playing. Without hints this could take days to figure out.
In addition to this, they brought back the driving. In the first game, you saw full sections of the map and you would navigate. The driving though was difficult to control. In Police Quest II, they eliminated the driving and just had an animated sequence until you reached your destination. The annoying thing with that, is that it acted like a load screen and would take forever. In this game, they did a hybrid. They took the driving in the first game and added the viewpoint of the second game. I will elaborate a little later on, as to how I feel about this.
You now have an inventory to manage what you have and not. This makes it a lot easier for the player. This concept was also carried over to Police Quest: Open Season.
If you play point and click games nowadays, they take a lot of inspiration from this particular game. This is true from the game mechanics to the graphics.
One last thing, you have limited save slots. This could be annoying especially when save files get corrupted or the game becomes a dead end. You could technically move the save files and then utilize the extra slots that are opened up. I guess this could be a workaround.
Police Quest III: The Kindred - Sample Gameplay
What do I think about this game? I think that I can split this into 2 different parts. There is the technical aspect and then there is a story telling aspect.
Let us go with the story first. The story is actually very good. I did not expect the story to be that great. Thinking back when this game was released, I would really have liked it as it had depth and it told a very good story. So for this it gets great points.
I know hindsight is 20/20, but I appreciate the fact that the series has an actual story arc. You follow Sonny Bonds from being a street cop to being a Sergeant. You get to follow your arch nemesis in Bain's and that keeps haunting poor Sonny throughout the series. Nowadays, this does not sound like much, but for back in the late 80's and early 90's, this was deep story telling.
Another strong aspect of the game are the graphics. There is just something about how this game looks. It gives me that nostalgia feeling which I never get tired of. A lot of the games that I have played recently, that are in the same genre, take their inspiration from this era of games. I am thinking of Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine, which happen to be from the same developer and publisher Raw Fury.
This game is victim to the same issues that bogged down previous instalments. You can often reach a dead end. This happened to me twice and I have no clue why. So basically, if you missed something earlier in the game, it can cost you later on. The frustrating part, it does not need to be right after that specific point. It could hinder you only an hour or two later. That can make any player rage quit. In fact, that is the reason why I stopped playing Police Quest: Open Season. This kind of issue has plagued the series throughout.
Another thing that frustrated me was the Court House scene. There is a bug in the game, where if you write down the wrong time when arresting someone. Due to this detail you lose the hearing. This is not the fault of the player. It is just the way the game was designed. At this point in the game, there are 3 events that you need to take care of before you move on. One of them, is arresting Mr. Ruiz for holding up traffic in his decked out car. The timestamp in the game will be an hour off, if not done correctly. You also have to arrest him as the third event. Any other sequence will give you the wrong timestamp. The good news is that, it has no bearing with the outcome of the game.
Another gripe that I have with the game is the driving. It is completely useless and adds nothing to the gameplay. You should be able to just go to where you need to go. At some point, I could not get off at the Coroner's Office. I have no clue why. I looked it up and apparently others have had similar issues. They just happened at different times. Some people it is the Court House and some others it is the Coroner's.
The good news is that I found this page:
It will have save states for pretty much all the Sierra games. It was done as people knew that the game design was flawed and people would get stuck. This is awesome and this is the only reason that I was able to continue the game. If not for this, I would have quit playing then and there.
I have to think back, how these games would have been played back when there was no internet and you had to buy the hint books. You could also call Sierra to get help for a fee on their hotline. Yes, it may be 8 hours long to complete when you know what to do. However, it could take days, weeks or even months to finish if you had no guidance.
In the end, in terms of the Sonny Bonds Trilogy, I would have to put this as number 2 behind Police Quest 1. The same issues that plagued the other games are still here. So the differentiating factor is the story. I feel that the story here is richer and more complete than in Police Quest II.
Unless you like these types of games, I do not think that you will play it. However, Sierra was the king of point and clicks and the mechanics found in this game are still found in modern games, almost 30 years later.
CG Mini Review - Police Quest III: The Kindred